Thursday, 24 April 2014

More Partying

London is the place to party especially if you have an excuse to dress up.  St George is a good reason to don a red and white costume and celebrate.  This party started early afternoon yesterday.  Don't expect too much from the city this morning

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

George and the Dragon

Today is St George's Day.  The bravery of St George during the time of the crusaders included a tale of how he fought a dragon.   An unlikely tale.  However dragons are sure to be seen in modern day celebrations.     The stroking rather than slaying of this dragon yielded sweets rather than fire from its jaws.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Bard's Birthday

The Globe Theatre put on a bit of a bash over the weekend to celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthday. Lots of party games, a bouncy castle and of course a cake were all part of the celebrations as were the lovely flowers decorating the entrance to the Globe.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Crucifix Lane

Druid St and Crucifix Lane?  The imagination runs wild.  Kate Mosse has written a book titled Crucifix Lane that is set here, but in the future.  What happened here in the past?
British History on-line only mentions the lane briefly as you walk through the area - "under the railway arches, by way of Crucifix Lane, a name which savours of "the olden time," "

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Ted gets beery ...

The Doll didn't come as she doesn't “do” beer.  She said “they won’t be happy if you tell them about something fabulous that they missed out on you know Ted” … well you are not the only ones who missed out!!  Let me tell you about what I missed out on at the otherwise fabulous Craft 100 Beer Festival in Clapham a few weekends ago!!!

100 beers they had .. 100 craft beers.   But did they have what I had come for … Did they have the local Partizan's Metric Porter, or the Siren Caribbean Chocolate Cake (Jerk Edition) brewed specially for the festival  .. no they bloody didn't!!! (the Doll only said no singing or nudity, she forgot to mention profanity!!). Did they have the Thornbridge Bracia, a beer aged for 3 years in Pedro Ximinez barrels (that most divine of a Christmas cake in a glass sherry) … yes they did!!!  I stood in the line to the bar my mouth salivating, my grip on my glass tightening, my whole body in a state of anticipation for the liquid nectar that would soon be mine .. all mine .. my precious …  Then what bloody happened?  The two lager louts in front of me decided to “try it for a laugh”.  Bang went the cask – the only cask!!

Oh what to do ... it was still too early in the day to sink onto the (astro-turf) floor sobbing more loudly than is acceptable in a “stiff upper lip” and “keep calm and carry on” culture.

This good man tried to comfort me, and while acknowledging that nothing could take the place of Bracia, he suggested a couple of others that I could take solace in .. like the Hoppin Frog Doris .. she had come in a barrel all the way from the US of A.

There are a small handful of Craft pubs in London (ie Pubs called Craft) and they rank among my favourites.  Wanna go … then apply paw and tweak mouse ear here

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Birthday Bash

King Jouser Trouser and Sir Gadgie Gannin proper radgie like invited many more of their clan to celebrate the king's birthday bash.
I didn't catch the names of their trusty steads, what do you think they would be called?

Friday, 18 April 2014

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Museum Visit - Walsh Trainers

Do you have any of these trainers sitting in your closet? I bet some of you do.

British made Walsh Trainers is an exhibition currently showing at the Fashion and Textile Museum.  The inspiring story of Norman Walsh who began his career making shoes at age fourteen back in 1945 with photographs, correspondence and brochures, plus an extensive collection of vintage shoes are on display.  In 1948 he fitted out the Olympic team with one pair of Walsh's shoes earning their wearer a gold medal.
Exhibition runs until 17 May

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Cherry Blossoms

Spring is shouting look at the cherry blossom trees!  Where ever you look the city is proudly showing off the most spectacular display of pink blossoms.  

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Sweet Dreams

I had a slice of chocolate cake at the 'Bank of Baking', very tasty it was too.  What you may be asking is the 'Bank of Baking'?  Well it looks like this:

A giant cake bank vault filled with gingerbread coins, gold bars made from cake and piles of edible cookie bank notes.  There is more to this than yummy cake, it is part of a promotion by Tate & Lyle (the sugar people) to help you set up your very own business. The 'bake your dreams come true' campaign offers a chance to win £5,000 cash to make your sweet dreams a reality.  The entry form is on the Tate & Lyle baking sugars or golden syrup bottle.  There are also lots of instant prizes including European holidays.  Or you could just learn how to make a sachertorte and then invite me to tea.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Charing Cross Station Celebrates 150 Years

Charing Cross Station had a wee bit of a celebration on Saturday to mark its 150th anniversary.  It should have been back in January as the first train pulled out of the station on 11 January 1864, crossing the imposing steel Hungerford bridge.  The bridge was not popular as many thought it ugly and wanted the station moved to the other side of the river and the bridge removed.  It remains today with a foot bridge on either side of it.

The original station had a grandiose roof, much like that of St Pancras, but there was a bit of a catastrophe in 1905 when a rage section of the roof collapsed killing 6 people.  Replacing the roof and constructing the additions for the new northern line took a year, reopening on March 1906.

Back to the celebrations, it was a lovely sunny day on Saturday so perfect for a wee party and a reason to dress up like our ancestors.  There were a few market stalls in the courtyard in front of the station selling produce from Kent.  Although a rather understated celebration it is a significant milestone for the railway station.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ted does Japan(ese) …

Howdy ... Ted here ... isn't this exciting .. I almost ran out of the blocks before I am allowed ...  I have just recently returned from a trip to Tokyo, that took in a little of Japan. I had one of the most fabulous dining experiences of my flurry little life there, but more of that another time. "We" (a woman who was not the Doll) went  to Yudanaka, on one of those wonderful pieces of engineering and technology quite correctly named “bullet trains”, or for those of you who don’t lisp “Shinkansen”.

We had come to see the snow monkeys who (surprisingly) live in the snow and spend most of their time in the natural geothermal hot pools.  After what seemed like hours of walking on a muddy high mountain track we finally reached a small hut in an advanced  state of snowy decay, with a smelly heater and a few “souvenirs”. The souvenirs had obviously been knitted by someone’s 98 year old Granny after a session of “so you call this Tequila do you? … and to think I wasted some much time on cream sherry!!”.  Naturally I bought one.

There were signs that politely spoke of the  “please do not’s” about interacting with the monkeys ... no staring, threatening, gesturing, eating, feeding, carrying Birkin bags etc.  They should have just said “be prepared to be monstered - the monkey’s don’t like you, they don’t want you here, you smell, and your mother dresses you funny!!  Your only hope is to lay down your Birkin bag containing at least 75% cocoa full fat dark chocolate bars” and RUN away!!”  This is of course a highly unlikely scenario for a highly unlikely reason - you just can’t get any chocolate that’s not green tea flavoured in Japan!!!.  So after what seemed like an eternity of being menaced by monkeys (probably 3 minutes in reality) we RAN away!!

Back in London the scars of the monkey incident healed quickly and my need for Japanese food returned in spades, so I talked the Doll into an early lunch at Koya Bar in Soho.

A skinny restaurant, with an attractive street front and a long light wooden counter/bar running the length of the place, very like what I had seen in Japan even!  The eaters sit on one side of the counter and the open kitchen is on the other.  Essentially Koya is a noodle bar that also has rice dishes, sides, and specials. Again in the Japanese fashion, it’s not designed as a place to linger after eating.  It is a place to be nourished and savour good honest food, well cooked, bursting with umami .. the 5th flavour . Umami is intrinsic to the Japanese psyche and delivered skilfully and effortlessly, in even the most humble of eating establishments.  Koya does it really well, and if you are in the area I’d thoroughly recommend you drop in.  And no … sadly we didn't have any Sake as the Doll says I am smart mouthed enough already!!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Spitting Image - Thirty Years

The caricature puppets that performed in the satirical TV program Spitting Image are celebrating their 30th anniversary in an exhibition at the cartoon museum.  The show ran on ITV for 18 episodes, polarising viewers into love and hate camps especially the portrayal of the royals.

Prominent politicians of the 80's and 90's  including British prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major and American president Ronald Reagan featured in many of the episodes.  Gems included 'the presidents brain is missing'  featuring Ronald and Nancy Reagan.   The 'cabinet of vegetable sketch'  featuring Margaret Thatcher.

The exhibition 'Spitting Image: from start to finish'  includes sculptures, drawings and videos showing the creation of the puppets and the making of the shows.  Newspaper and magazine cartoon accompany the work and of course the highlight is a selection of some of the best of the puppets, including a larger than life puppet of Margaret Thatcher.

The exhibition runs 26 February to 8 June 2014
The Cartoon Museum
35 Little Russell Street

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Museum Visit - Sewing Machine

Big ones, little ones, royal ones, decorated, industrial, the list goes on and on.  I never knew so many sewing machines existed and how incredibly enthralling their stories could be.

Want to know how machines work, see Queen Victoria's embroidery sewing machine, know how the most delicate lingerie was sewn, or how shoes and belts were created on the industrial machines? Maybe just a walk down memory lane to see one your gran or the local tailor owned, or maybe it was one of the children's models that will excite you. This is the museum for you all.

Then again maybe just the incredible story behind the museum.  It began after the war when Thomas Albert Rushton started collecting, repairing and selling second hand sewing machines.  It was difficult work as Singer the largest producer of sewing machines hired a team of thugs to smash up old machines.  They did not want a second-hand market.

Thomas's son Ray was just twelve years old when he started helping his father in the business.  This grew into the obsession that became this museum.  It is possibly the biggest and most varied collection of sewing machines in the world.  It includes gems like the Kimball and Morton machine that has the head of a lion and sits on a rosewood box.

His machines have been used in movies and he sends them to collectors all over the world.  Those machines that decorate the clothing stores "All Saints", you guessed it, they all came from Ray.

As I left I spotted the enormous work shop downstairs.  Here you can buy any machine part or accessory for any sewing machine you care to name.  Even the store is a step back into a previous era, nearly as big a treat as the museum itself.

To Visit the London Sewing Machine Museum
nearest tube: Tooting Bec
308-312 Balham High Rd, London SW17 7AA
Phone:020 8767 0036